Santiago Island, Cape Verde. Where is it and when to go?

D44AO Santiago Island Cabo Verde.

Rob, DM4AO will be active with the callsign D44AO from Santiago Island, IOTA AF – 005, Cabo Verde, February 13 – 25, 2022. He will be operating on the 80 – 10m bands. Latest DX spots D44AO He also plans to compete in the ARRL DX CW Contest, February 19 – 20, 2022. Rob will be working in the SOAB LP category. QTH is Villa Halcyon, Santiago Island, Cabo Verde. QSL via home call sign. Address for QSL directive: Robert Busch, Rottweiler Str. 19, 14612, Falkensee, Germany. QTH locator – HK84ev. WLOTA – 0158.

Santiago Cabo Verde.

The state in West Africa – Cape Verde, nestled at ease on the Cape Verde Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, has its main attraction – the largest island of Santiago. The large island unit has a very popular name in Europe – “Santiago”, given to it in honor of the famous Catholic apostle Saint Iago (James). As its name suggests, the island was discovered by Europe’s ubiquitous colonizers, who inherited the island’s distinctive settlement names and landscape landmarks.

D44AO Santiago Island, Cabo Verde

Santiago Island, Cabo Verde. Photo by Harald Felgner.

Historical excursion

The colorful island, like presumably five others, was discovered and developed by the enterprising Genoese Antonio de Noli in 1462. An Italian, Antonio, who settled there with his entire family, was exiled from Genoa for political reasons and was never able to return to his homeland for the rest of his life. De Noli was a navigator, explorer and, of course, a typical “black gold” merchant. From its founding, Santiago Cabo Verde was a key seaport and thus a transshipment point for the export of black slaves to South America and Europe. Antonio is credited with creating the first civilized city in the tropics with fortified borders, forts, and a cathedral, Cidadi Velha. A nobleman by birth, de Noli also became the first governor of an island in the Cape Verde.

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After de Noli’s death the island was ruled by his daughter and son-in-law, and then possession of the lucrative colony passed from one conqueror to another. Spain, France, and England took turns exploiting the ever-blooming island, invariably leaving bits of their cultural heritage behind. But the greatest influence on the mentality and way of life of this place has had all the same Portugal, which was the last owner of the island. Only in 1975 the independence of the whole archipelago was proclaimed, but the playful nickname “Portuguese Africa” stuck with it forever.

Fantastic geography and wonderful climate of the island

When viewed from a bird’s eye view, the necklace of 18 islands of Cape Verde in the ocean looks like pieces of meteorite, as if scattered across the blue of the sky. And the biggest diamond is Santiago, a majestic island of 991 km2 located 620 km west of Africa. Inside, the island is no less impressive than outside: sharp rocks with craters are interspersed with green forests, and the gentle coastline is riddled with rocky bays. Crowning the island is the highest peak with two heads – Santo Antônio with a height of 1392 km. The unreal mountainous relief of the island is explained by its probable seismic origin. Supposedly the island was subjected to a powerful paleotsunami strike more than 70 thousand years ago. Scientists argue that the blast wave was caused by a volcano Fogu, located 50 km from the island, and it threw on the territory of the boulders of incredible size. Some of them weigh up to seven hundred tons!

Despite the island’s difficult geographical location for life, its climate is one you can only dream of. With an average annual temperature of +26 oC in this area of the ocean prevails comfortable weather with almost no debilitating tropical downpours. The temperature of the coastal waters varies during the winter: from February to March from +20 to +22 oC, and in the summer, from August to October, up to +26 oC. The exhausting heat, which is the hallmark of the African continent, is almost absent because of the gentle and slightly dusty southwestern monsoon, which blows around the wonder-island like a huge fan.

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D44AO Santiago Island, Cabo Verde DX News

Santiago Island, Cabo Verde. Photo by tivitto.

The nature of the sunny island

Experts consider the tropical nature of Santiago rather poor because of the need to maintain the agricultural fields, but this fact is more than offset by the rich fauna of the boundless ocean. Due to the somewhat savannah climate, the island is covered with dry forests, among which are imported pines, chestnuts, oaks and eucalyptus trees. Rare species of flowering shrubs – Acacia albida, tamarisk, sarcostemma – very dilute the fresh landscape of the island. But the flora of the main island of the archipelago can also boast completely unique endemic species of plantations, such as dracena draco, or dragonwood, ironwood, tornabenea. In the national park you can admire the oldest baobab of indescribable size, under the shadow of which the first colonizers must have rested, as it is several hundred years old!

Fauna on the island is also extremely small, but the abundant area boasts a complete absence of snakes and large mammals. But the rocky terrain is rich in birds, of which there are more than 200 species, including about 50 permanent winterers. Among the birds even now you can find the rarest specimens: Bourne heron, petrel Fea, Egyptian vultures. But nevertheless, the nature of the ocean expanses allows you to see absolutely amazing things here. Flocks of humpback whales migrate around the islands every year, 18 species of dolphins frolic year-round, and several species of enormous sea turtles arrive to breed.

Mixed population, religion, ancestral languages

235,803 people, the island’s population, are the descendants of African slaves transported by Europeans and of the colonizers themselves: French, Portuguese, and British. Over centuries of history, the many islanders have intermingled with each other through intermarriage. Today, the majority of the inhabitants are Creoles (descendants of mixed marriages of Portuguese and Negroes) – about 70%, about 30% are true Africans. 1% of the population are settled Europeans. The shouting national clothes, costume jewellery made of animal remains and civilized clothes look quite harmonious on the modern streets of ancient villages.

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According to the main part of the population, Portuguese and Creole are the officially recognized languages of the island. But the islanders have developed many dialects over time, the most notable of which is Criulu, a rich mixture of Portuguese and African and Swahili.

The first European conquerors settled on the sunny island and, of course, actively promoted Catholicism among the illiterate settlers. And so about 90 percent of Santiago’s inhabitants are Roman Catholic and 3 percent Protestant in origin. But the strong African roots are inextinguishable even in such an interesting community of nationalities, and 7% of the islanders are still members of sects, worship occult cultures of Africa or are orthodox.

D44AO Santiago Island, Cabo Verde Tourist Attractions

Santiago Island, Cabo Verde. Photo by Oliver Flambeau.

The capital of Santiago.

Praia, the island’s largest city, is also the capital of the entire Cape Verde archipelago. The capital is an administrative unit with a population of about 150,000 people, which is almost half the population of the island and a quarter of the entire republic. The former fishing village with a 500-year history has managed to become a well-developed economic center. Praia boasts an airport, public transport, food processing plants, metal works and educational institutions. In the main square of the capital there is the old and current presidential palace. The modern city is famous for its ethnographic complexes, preserving the island life of past centuries.

Attractions of the island: a small coin is a dear one

The capital of the island of Praia is a city in which, as in all ancient settlements, developed infrastructure and original monuments peacefully coexist. Modern banks of glass and concrete and national markets full of sea delicacies and handicraft items peacefully coexist.

The archipelago’s main town is renowned for the remnants of colonial life in the form of the Old Town. In the former prison building, now the Museum of Resistance, you can see artifacts from the heroic past of the black freedom fighters.

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In the island’s first settlement, now Ribeira Grande, you can admire the marble pillar in the main square, the remains of the cathedral and the structures of the old Portuguese port of Santo Felipe. Lovers of natural attractions will enjoy the National Park, located near the town of Assamada. The natural treasure of the Republic with its majestic giants-trees reminiscent of the prehistoric picture, which in contrast to the sunny sandy beaches looks simply enchanting.

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